3 years ago

Alternative biomass strategies for bioenergy: implications for bird communities across the southeastern United States

Alternative biomass strategies for bioenergy: implications for bird communities across the southeastern United States
Berry J. Brosi, Isabel G. W. Gottlieb, Holly Ober, Mauricio M. Nuñez-Regueiro, Lora Smith, Robert J. Fletcher
Concerns over energy demands and climate change have led the United States to set ambitious targets for bioenergy production in the coming decades. The southeastern United States has had a recent increase in biomass woody pellet production and is projected to produce a large portion of the nation's cellulosic biofuels. We conducted a large-scale, systematic comparison of potential impacts of two types of bioenergy feedstocks – corn (Zea mays) and pine (Pinus spp.) – on bird communities across the southeastern United States. In addition, we evaluated three biomass alternatives for woody biomass from pine plantations: thinning, residue harvest, and short-rotation energy plantations (SREPs). We conducted transect counts for birds in eight different land uses across the region (85 sites), including corn fields, reference forest, and plantation forests, 2013–2015. We then used hierarchical occupancy models to test the effect of these biomass alternatives on 31 species. Across all species, birds had lower rates of occupancy in corn fields compared to pine stands. Thinning had positive effects on the average occupancy across species, while residue harvest and the potential conversion of conventional plantations to SREPs had negative effects. Cavity nesters and species with bark-gleaning foraging strategies tended to show the strongest responses. These results highlight the potential negative effects of corn as an energy crop relative to the use of pine biomass. In addition, harvesting biomass via thinning was a bird-friendly harvest method in comparison with other alternatives. While SREPs may negatively impact some bird species, previously reported yields emphasize that they may provide an order of magnitude greater yield per unit area than other alternatives considered, such that this land-use practice may be an important alternative to minimize the bioenergy impacts across the landscape. We conducted a large-scale, systematic comparison of potential impacts of two types of biofuel feedstocks – corn and pine – on bird communities across the southeastern United States. We find that the use of pine biomass is more beneficial to bird communities than the use of corn biomass. Additionally, harvesting methods used for pine biomass can have generally positive or negative effects, depending on the method considered. We further show how these effects can be understood based on species foraging and nesting traits.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12453

You might also like
Never Miss Important Research

Researcher is an app designed by academics, for academics. Create a personalised feed in two minutes.
Choose from over 15,000 academics journals covering ten research areas then let Researcher deliver you papers tailored to your interests each day.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.